Make It A God Day!

I much prefer face-to-face and telephone interactions to email and texts. Still, I use my handheld and desktop devices to communicate in one way or another every day. Over the years, I’ve developed adequate publishing skills and enough technical knowledge not to disrupt my computer’s functions too often. Still, I’ve experienced the occasional snafu usually through my own ineptitude. Much to my dismay, this occurred a few weeks ago. Somehow, I’d deleted my email account. After struggling to retrace my steps for hours, I realized that I needed far more expertise than I possess to retrieve it. What had I done? In desperation, I set aside my panic long enough to reach out to a friend.

Much to my good fortune, Andy generously agreed to rescue me. I think my tearful over-the-phone explanation encouraged him to come to my aid in person rather than trying to guide me from afar. While I waited for his arrival, more tears streamed down my face. When I deleted that email account, I’d lost my blog account and more than two thousand of my daily reflections. Once again, I asked myself, “What have I done?” I had no time to answer because the doorbell rang. A very calm Andy must have sensed my distress. Before he did a thing, Andy alleviated my worst fears by assuring me that everything I thought I’d lost was indeed somewhere. With that, he quickly and amazingly restored it all. Within minutes, I’d replaced my tears with a smile and returned to my work.

Because this technological frenzy had persisted for hours before Andy’s rescue, I was behind with my writing. Before returning to the reflection at hand, I tackled the thirty or so emails which had accumulated since the onset of my misery. Though I normally think far more quickly than I type, I did this even more so as I made my way through those messages. I proof-read often to see that I’d written what I’d intended to write. Oddly, though it hadn’t been that sort of a day for me, my most frequent error occurred at the close of almost every one of my replies. I’d intended to end with “Have a good day!” However, I actually typed, “Have a god day!” Why was I so consistent with this particular error? I had made this mistake before, but never with such consistency. Had I hit the “o” key so quickly that the second “o” didn’t register? It took me several minutes to acknowledge that “g-o-d” was far more than the misspelling of “good.” It’s the single most important word that I know. Was my error actually a subconscious or perhaps inspired effort to offer my email recipients much more than a good day? Perhaps my error wasn’t a spelling error at all, but rather an error in capitalization. Perhaps I should have been typing, “Have a God day!” all along. After all, Andy had certainly given me a God day when he saved my email and my writing.

I’m sharing all of this with you because “God days” seem to be at the core of Jesus’ message to his disciples this Ascension Day. When he bade them farewell, Jesus reminded his friends of the most important aspects of his teaching. God blessed each of us with the potential for a lifetime of God days. If Jesus’ friends took his words to heart, every day would be a “God day” for them. Though we hear different Ascension gospels each year, Jesus’ promise remains the same.

In today’s account from Luke (Luke 24:46-53), Jesus said, “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.” Luke wrote to impress upon his readers Jesus’ promise that God would be with them in everything. Mark’s account (Mark 16:15-20) tells us that Jesus asked his disciples to “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” By sharing the word, they would assure all who listened of God’s love for them. Every day would be a God day for all concerned. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 28:16-20), Jesus added this promise: “I will be with you always, until the end of the world.” Jesus promised to remain at their sides through everything. John’s gospel ends without a reference to the Ascension. When John’s gospel is read on Ascension Day, this reference to the Last Supper is cited: “Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: ‘Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…’” Jesus’ prayer included not only the disciples who walked with him, but also all who would eventually be touched by their efforts. Indeed, “God days” are intended for everyone.

On this Feast of the Ascension, we are invited to join the disciples in making every day a “God day” for ourselves and for all whom we meet along the way. Through all that he said and did, Jesus assured those in his company that they were loved more than they could ever imagine and that God was with them in good times and in bad. It’s up to us to do the same. This likely won’t involve our preaching on street corners or mountainsides. However, if we follow Jesus’ lead, these efforts will involve sharing God’s love as best we can whenever we can. Every time we repeat this precious message through our interactions and our relationships with those we’ve been given to love, we make their days and our own “God days”. As for me, I’m most grateful that my friend Andy imitated Jesus’ generosity in transforming that potentially devastating day into a God day for me.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose Wisely

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:41

I recently participated in a flurry of emails regarding an upcoming family gathering. In this busy technological era, my extended family has resorted to email to narrow down potential gathering dates by assessing who can come when. One of my nephews even proposed an online app to facilitate our efforts. Happily, a date has been chosen which will result in optimum attendance.

Large family gatherings are among my most precious childhood memories. Though I dreaded the preparations involved, I loved our family parties. I usually crept away from the children and eased myself into the periphery of the adult conversations. I listened to recent news and familiar stories with equal interest. I continue to savor remnants of these wonderful exchanges. My mom often observed that I didn’t miss a thing! The truth is that if I hadn’t busied myself with listening so carefully to the adults around me, I would have missed a great deal!

Something similar occurred during one of Jesus’ visits to the home of Martha and Mary. Martha scurried about to prepare a meal for Jesus and his friends, while Mary seated herself at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complained about Mary’s disinterest in helping her, Jesus offered her little sympathy. Though Jesus appreciated Martha’s concern, he appreciated Mary’s company far more.

The truth is that being present to those we love is the most important task at hand.

Loving God, you have blessed us with both a work ethic and the capacity to love. Help us to use both wisely.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Live With Hope

I failed to realize the extent of my reliance on technology until my printer stopped working several days ago. I had to prepare handwritten notes to accompany the weekly bulletins I mail to offline parishioners who have left the area or are unable to get to church. I could not print the shipping label which I needed to return the printer, and I could not print our Christmas card labels. I had to proof all of my writing on-screen because I had no hard copies to read. Within a few days of the printer’s demise, my computer coughed and threatened to give out as well. By the week’s end, I’d developed what seemed to be a permanent headache. I chided myself for relying so heavily on this hardware to accomplish tasks which are important to me. What ever happened to paper and pencils?

In the midst of my ever-increasing frustration, my dear husband gently reminded me that my computer has been terribly slow for some time and that in tech years it was probably 101 years old. Mike went on to remind me that we had decided that I needed a new desktop a month or so ago. “Maybe this is a sign,” he suggested, “that you should get that new computer now.” Though misery seemed to have become a way of life for me, I wasn’t so far gone that I ignored the hope Mike extended to me. So it was that we headed out with our tech-minded friend David in tow to find what I needed.

As we drove, David listened as I listed my technology needs. He assured me that we would find the right equipment at a good price. With this bit of hope in hand, my headache faded a bit. By the time we reached the store, I felt reasonably assured that I’d find something to help me out of my predicament. As we browsed, David patiently explained the features of each product. I eventually found a PC, monitor and printer appropriate to my needs. David approved my selections and we made our purchase. My headache ebbed a bit more and my hope increased as we headed home. Though installing and learning to operate this new equipment made for an extremely long and tedious day, David guided me through it all. In the end, though I am no expert at any of this, I felt confident that I would be able to accomplish everything I needed to and more. The next morning, I was back at my keyboard, productive and headache-free for the first time in a long time.

This Second Sunday of Advent, I share my technology woes with you because they hinted at the ongoing misery endured by Isaiah’s contemporaries. Dealing with my short-lived misfortune also provided a taste of the hope which is ours if only we look beyond our troubles and outside of ourselves. In today’s passage from Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-5; 9-11), we find that God’s people had endured intolerable misery for a very long time. Isaiah offered consolation in his reminder of God’s promises: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated…” God used Isaiah’s words to assure the people that their iniquity was forgiven. With that, the prophet announced that it was time for the people to welcome God back into their midst. Isaiah offered his brothers and sisters God’s invitation to refocus their lives for the long haul. Isaiah invited them to rejoice in this positive turn of events and in every moment they were given. After all, God promised to be with them and to provide for them in all things. In the second reading (2 Peter 3:8-14), Peter echoed Isaiah’s call to look to the Lord for all that we need when he said, “The Lord does not delay his promise…” Mark’s gospel (Mark 1:1-8) also referenced Isaiah with words carefully chosen to underscore the importance of Jesus’ coming. Mark quoted John the Baptizer who announced, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.” Yes, there was hope to be found long ago, just as there is hope for us today.

I admit that I am disappointed in myself for allowing my computer woes to get the best of me. In the grand scheme of things, these troubles were minor indeed. Still, in the midst of this trivial setback, God sent hope in my husband’s gentle urging and in our friend David’s patient guidance. Imagine how much more God will do when the tragedies of this life threaten significant and lasting damage. This Second Sunday of Advent and every day, God gives us reason to hope in all of our circumstances. At the same time, God challenges us to loosen our grasp on our troubles long enough to embrace that hope. As we amble through this hectic Advent, our best preparation for Christmas will be to prepare a permanent place for hope in our lives.

Loving God, open our hearts to your promises today and always!

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved